Thursday, May 10, 2012
BONFIRE OUT TO LIGHT UP INVESTEC DERBY PICTURE AT CHESTER
The Group One Investec Derby, which takes place at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 2, offers prize money of at least £1.325 million and is now under a month away. Many clues for the premier Classic will be uncovered this week with key trials taking place at Chester, Lingfield and Leopardstown in Ireland.
Tomorrow, Friday, May 11, Chester stages the Group Three Stobart Barristers Dee Stakes over an extended mile and a quarter, in which the Andrew Balding-trained Bonfire will make his seasonal reappearance against five rivals. The son of Manduro made a taking start to his career with an easy victory on debut at Salisbury in September, before finishing an unlucky third to French Fifteen in the Group One Criterium International, also over a mile, at Saint-Cloud in October. He is currently 8/1 second favourite for the Investec Derby with William Hill, Official Betting Partner of the 2012 Investec Derby Festival.
Harry Herbert, managing director of Bonfire’s owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “Bonfire seems in great form and it has always been our plan to run in the Stobart Barristers Dee Stakes. Andrew’s (Balding) horses appear to be in great form, which is encouraging, and he is very happy with Bonfire, so it’s time to get him started and see where we are heading.
“The form of his race at Saint-Cloud has worked out very well with the winner going on to finish runner-up in the 2000 Guineas, so his form looks rock solid. We just have to hope he handles the very soft ground which, on his first run of the season, is a bit of a worry as he is taking on race-fit opponents.
“In regards to the Investec Derby, we have to be realistic about the trip. Although you can never be confident about that going into the Investec Derby with any horse, on pedigree that would be the one question mark against Bonfire. However, that is something we will be trying to get more of a gauge on at Chester on Friday as, at the moment, we are all in the dark.
“Bonfire does have a terrific turn of foot and we expect a mile and a quarter to suit him very well, but we are just hoping Jimmy (Fortune) can get more of a feel off of him at Chester in regards to how far he is going to stay. There is always the French Derby, but our intention has always been to go to Epsom and that is in everybody’s dream as well.
“Bonfire is such an exciting horse and Andrew (Balding) flagged it up pretty early on that he thought he might have an Investec Derby horse on his hands. It was great to see him win on his debut at Salisbury in a very fast time and we are very excited by him.
“He is not a big robust horse like a Harbinger - he is a much finer type of horse - but he is very eye-catching and you would pick him out of the string any day.
“He hasn’t been seriously tested at home - he is a very exuberant horse and you don’t want to be overworking him. He is very intelligent and Andrew (Balding) said he lets the horse do things how he wants to do it because he is a quick learner and doesn’t want him fully wound up on his first start.
“Hopefully, he will improve upon whatever he does on Friday and, as always, we will be taking it one step at a time. He is second favourite for the Investec Derby, probably because of (the Racing Post’s) Pricewise, but we hope he is an even shorter-priced second favourite after Friday.”
Bonfire will lock horns with Aidan O’Brien’s Astrology, who showed good form as a juvenile when finishing third in the Group Two Futurity Stakes at the Curragh in August. Marco Botti runs the unbeaten Doncaster scorer Kingsdesire, while Sir Michael Stoute, who won this trial in 2003 with subsequent Investec Derby winner Kris Kin, saddles the maiden Uriah Heep.
Today at Chester a field of five is due to go to post for the Group Three MBNA Chester Vase over a mile and a half. They are Aidan O’Brien’s Group Two Beresford Stakes winner David Livingston, John Oxx’s Call To Battle Charlie Hills’ Newmarket maiden victor Model Pupil, Bonfire’s stablemate and Newbury maiden winner Minimise Risk, plus Mickdaam, who ran a good race when fourth in the UAE Derby at Meydan in March.
On Saturday at Lingfield, David Lanigan’s Main Sequence, who was added to the Investec Derby at the second entry stage, could bid to maintain his unbeaten record in the Group Three Betfred Derby Trial Stakes, while Ralph Beckett’s impressive Nottingham maiden winner Colima, may attempt to bolster her reputation in the Listed Betfred ‘The Bonus King’ Oaks Trial Stakes.
The Group Two Derrinstown Derby Trial, which takes place on Sunday, has developed into a leading trial for the Investec Derby and Oxx, who completed the double in 2000 with Sinndar, may run the highly-regarded Akeed Mofeed, another who was entered at the second entry stage. Jim Bolger has entered course and distance scorer Light Heavy, while O’Brien can pick from seven entries including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf hero Wrote and impressive maiden winner Ernest Hemingway.
Camelot, the ante-post favourite throughout the winter for the Investec Derby, consolidated his position at the head of market with a classy success in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last Saturday. He is now 4/5 favourite with William Hill, Official Betting Partner of the 2012 Investec Derby Festival.
Also at Newmarket, Frankel’s full-brother Noble Mission laid down his Investec Derby credentials when getting up late to deny Godolphin’s Mariner’s Cross in the Listed Newmarket Stakes over 10 furlongs.
In France Kesampour, trained by Mikel Delzangles, made it four from four with a narrow success in the Group Two Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud, which was won last year by subsequent Investec Derby hero Pour Moi.
On Sunday the fillies took centre stage in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and the surprise winner Homecoming Queen could next line up at Epsom Downs in the Investec Oaks on Friday, June 1.
Later on the card, Godolphin unleashed a potentially very smart filly in the shape of the once-raced Kailani, who won the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes in no uncertain fashion, successful by seven lengths. She is a daughter of 2002 Oaks heroine Kazzia and the fillies’ Classic is being considered for the daughter of Monsun, although she would need to be supplemented at a cost of £20,000.
LATEST PRICES FROM WILLIAM HILL - OFFICIAL BETTING PARTNER OF THE 2012 INVESTEC DERBY FESTIVAL
Investec Derby: 4/5 Camelot; 8/1 Bonfire; 12/1 Akeed Mofeed; 16/1 Imperial Monarch, Kesampour, Mandaean, Parish Hall; 25/1 Encke, Ektihaam, Ernest Hemingway, Fencing, Noble Mission, Shantaram, Swedish Sailor; 33/1 Apollo, Astrology, Athens, Call To Battle, David Livingston, Furner’s Green, Mariner’s Cross, Michelangelo, Mighty Ambition, Rougemont, Top Offer, Wrote, Wrotham Heath; 40/1 BAR (EW 1/4 1,2,3)
Aidan O’Brien to train the Oaks winner: 4/5
Aidan O’Brien to train the Derby and Oaks double: 2/1
Investec Oaks: 3/1 Kissed; 100/30 Maybe, 7/1 Homecoming Queen, Wading; 8/1 Kailani (needs to be supplemented); 10/1 The Fugue; 16/1 Vow; 20/1 Discourse, Fallen For You, Firdaws, Twirl, Was, Waldlerche; 33/1 Betterbetterbetter; 40/1 Cubanita, Popular (EW ¼ 1,2,3)
Investec Dash: 9/1 York Glory; 10/1 Night Carnation; 12/1 Dickie's Lad, Long Awaited, Shoshoni Wind; 14/1 Arctic Feeling, Captain Dunne, Confessional, Duchess Dora, Es Que Love, Lexi's Hero, Verinco; 16/1 Ballesteros, Cadeaux Pearl, Catfish, Chocolate Hills, Courageous, Jamesway, Lui Rei, Steps, Taajub; 20/1 Bear Behind, Blue Jack, Celerina, Desert Law, Dinkum Diamond, Fitz Flyer, Humidor, Judge N Jury, Living It Large, Partner, Sohraab, Tax Free, The Thrill Is Gone; 25/1 Billyrayvalentine, Excel Bolt, Fair Value, Flash City, Oor Jock, Stone Of Folca, Sugar Beet, Taurus Twins, Vocational; 33/1 Berberana, Bertoliver, Captain Dimitrios, Crimea, Diamond Charlie, Fathom Five, Kool Henry, Master Rooney, Muaamara, Nosedive, Noverre To Go, Perfect Blossom, Place In My Heart, Swilly Ferry; 50/1 Church Music, Indian Trail; 66/1 Estonia, Lupo d'Oro (EW ¼ 1,2,3,4)